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Title:Phonological chain shifts during acquisition: Evidence for lexicon optimization
Authors:Marc Ettlinger
Comment:In NELS 38 Vol. 1, Ed. A Schardl, et al., pp. 259-269
Abstract:The phonological chain shifts exhibited by children during language development are challenging for theories of phonology because they reflect an opacity – a generalization that is not surface true. Based on diary studies of the phonological development of several children, I propose an account for chain shifts of this sort by suggesting that they reflect multiple stages of lexicon optimization (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004).
This is similar to the 'inertia' effects demonstrated in Menn (1971) where older words are resistant to recent changes in phonological capabilities. Evidence for inertia in the present cases of opacity is provided by comparing the frequency and age of words reflecting one of the two relevant generalizations that are in an opaque relationship. I show that there is no point at which both generalizations are active and so any apparent opacity is not synchronic in nature. Using lexicon optimization to formalize this challenges the notion of using adult phonological representations as the underlying representations for children. Indeed, production data suggests that children go through multiple stages of lexicon optimization prior to reaching the final adult grammar.
Type:Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords:Language Acquisition,Phonology
Article:Version 1